Developments in the spotlight

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SAFETY concerns and potential conflicts of interest around property developments could see Kingston Council compile a register of names of all involved in the building of properties with ten or more dwellings.

Councillors at the latest public council meeting on 25 September, at the suggestion of Cr Rosemary West, voted to have council officers investigate the feasibility of keeping “a register of lobbyists, planners, developers and landowners associated with development applications for 10 or more dwellings lodged with Kingston Council in future, and, where requested by a councillor, officer or member of the community, during the past 15 years”.

Cr West cited the Grenfell tower tragedy in London in June, in which an estimated 80 people died in a towering inferno in the 24-storey public housing block, as one reason to track potential problems with builders in Kingston.

“I think what we particularly want to know about is developers who are using dodgy materials, flammable materials, dangerous materials that endanger the lives of people who move in to high-rise apartments,” she said at the meeting.

“As a matter of transparency, I think it’s also good to add any councillor development applications to this as well.”

Cr West said councillors need to know who is involved in a planning application when it is lodged for council consideration.

Cr Geoff Gledhill, the Liberal candidate for the seat of Mordialloc at next year’s state election, backed the possibility of Kingston Council compiling a development register but cautioned existing pressures on council’s planning department needed to be taken into account.

“There’s nothing wrong with building safeguards in … [but] if we continue to bog down an area that already says to us ‘we’re struggling to keep up’ and there are signs of their workload abating then I think we need to think very, very carefully.”

Cr Gledhill noted the planning department has “a volume of work” and needs to deal with planning applications within 60 days of lodgement.

Cr Tasmin Bearsley focused on the safety aspect of any development register so council can “be more aware” of repeat offenders who do not comply with council building codes.

“That, to me, would be far more valuable,” Cr Bearsley said.

“I’m really concerned about the cladding issue and ensuring that we have good-quality developments all the way throughout Kingston.”

Crs West, Gledhill, Tamara Barth, Ron Brownlees, Georgina Oxley and Steve Staikos voted to instruct council officers to report back to councillors about the possibility of compiling a development register.

Cr Bearsley voted against Cr West’s notice of motion. Cr George Hua abstained from voting.

The mayor Cr David Eden, chairing the meeting, did not raise his hand to indicate a vote.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 11 October 2017

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